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The Power of Social Connection During COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented disruptions to all aspects of life and has particularly impacted our social connections. We may have previously taken for granted the simple pleasures in hugging friends and family, petting people’s pets in the neighborhood, eating out, meeting up at cafes, going to the gym, getting a haircut, grocery shopping in peace, and many others. All of these activities are now entirely disrupted due to the pandemic. While social distancing is an act of care for the community, as it is in the best interest of public health, it is expected and normal to feel isolated and less connected as a result. This article will outline a few ways to stay socially connected during this time and also will highlight the benefits of doing so.

In order to stay socially connected while physically distancing from others, explore the options below and see what works for you. While virtual or distanced activities may not ever live up to actually being close with your loved ones, they can serve temporarily as helpful and uplifting substitutes.

Video-Call –– to feel less isolated.

One of the most simple ways to stay connected during this time is through video-calls and scheduling virtual visits with friends and family. There are many apps that offer video-calling services including FaceTime, Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts, and other extensions such as Netflix Party that allow for watching movies virtually with friends. While it’s not the same as being together in-person, video-calling allows you to actually see the person you are connecting with and have a face-to-face conversation.

The benefits of video-calling include being able to maintain your support network virtually, check in often, and also to reach your loved ones who may physically be further away from you or in a different location entirely. Video-calling also can expand your reach and access to community support groups and other advocacy gatherings that are now virtual as a result of the pandemic.

Social Distant Walks –– to embrace the benefits of nature with company.

To add a more active component of social connection in your routine, set up outdoor walks with a friend or loved one if you can. As long as you maintain 6-feet physical distance and wear a mask for extra precaution, going on walks with a loved one can be a great outlet for connection.

The benefits of this are intertwined in nature, being active, and having a friend to talk to. Being outdoors grants an incredible uplifting feeling that stems from being in nature. Spending time in green natural spaces can improve your mood, relieve stress, and overall help your mind and body feel more calm. Similarly, walking and being physically active releases endorphins that uplift your mood and enhance your wellbeing. These combined with having a supportive friend or peer to talk to––while taking public health precautions such as staying 6-feet apart and wearing a mask––can lead to immense mental health benefits all in one activity.

Other Creative Ideas –– to stay connected.

It is deeply inspiring and empowering to see how many people are coming up with their own creative ways to stay socially connected and united during this pandemic. It shows our collective resilience in the midst of adversity. Some creative ideas for social connection include: writing personal letters to people living in nursing homes, surprising family or friends at their houses by stopping by to say hi from their driveway or front yard, hosting virtual dinner parties or arts and crafts sessions, continuing advocacy platforms and campaigns virtually, and many more. Musicians are also streaming their songs and talents online to share; one great example is seen with Swiss Jazz Yodeler who started ‘Dinner With My Neighbor‘ to maintain social connections.

Regardless of which path to social connection you choose to pursue, remember that you are not alone. While we are all facing different and varying levels of stressors as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have all been impacted in some way, and ultimately, we will get through it together. A growing body of research in psychology shows that humans’ primary response to widespread adversity is almost always resilience. With that said, remember to reach out if you ever feel you need professional support during this difficult time and above all, stay hopeful and maintain social connections.

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